Adult fruit fly attraction to larvae biases experience and mediates social learning
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We investigated whether adult fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) use cues of larvae as social information in their food patch choice decisions. Adult male and female fruit flies showed attraction to odours emanating from foraging larvae, and females preferred to lay eggs on food patches occupied by larvae over similar unoccupied patches. Females learned and subsequently preferred to lay eggs at patches with novel flavours previously associated with feeding larvae over patches with novel flavours previously associated with no larvae. However, when we controlled for the duration of exposure to each flavoured patch, females no longer preferred the flavour previously associated with feeding larvae. This suggests that social learning in this context is indirect, as a result of strong social attraction biasing experience.
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